Kunstler’s Home From Nowhere

January 29, 2008

Since I liked The Long Emergency so much, over the weekend I read Home From Nowhere, James Howard Kunstler’s follow up to his earlier magnum opus Geography of Nowhere. Very good book. Where The Long Emergency focused on the economic implications of suburban sprawl, particularly its non-sustainability, Home From Nowhere focuses on the social implications, on how suburbia is turning us from citizens into consumers, how it is sterilizing our culture and alienating our children and neighbors. Rather than simply bemoan the problem, Home From Nowhere also suggests ways that we can reclaim charming, meaningful places to live. Everyone enjoys vacationing in places like Nantucket or Paris or Boston, where one essentially has to abandon one’s car and proceed by foot or by bicycle. Kunstler urges us to dare to dream that we can actually live year-round in a community of this sort. Kunstler talks about how the zoning laws in place essentially all across America almost require us to develop single use “pods” rather than mixed use space where offices, storefronts, and residences coexist (which was the way that all towns were designed before World War II). He cites successful development projects, most notably Seaside, Florida, where developers were able to create charming, affordable mixed use communities. And he describes the New Urbanist movement of neotraditional urban design, that strives to reinvent the way we create cities and towns. Very good read.

Here’s an article Kunstler wrote for the Atlantic Monthly that summarizes some of the points in the book.


2 Responses to “Kunstler’s Home From Nowhere”

  1. […] a great deal about what’s wrong with the way we build our cities, spurred by Kunstler’s great books. Reminded me of an article I read a few years back about The High Cost of Free Parking. The […]

  2. LongtimeTulsan Says:

    Both of Kunstler’s books were an interesting read. Definately food for fodder. Much of what is happening in our community is a direct result of the lack of long term thinking in conjunction with the perceived notion that if we resist zoning and planning that it will make things better. It appears to be .. a pervasive struggle of what we want (community) and yet doing everything possible to prevent it. I do attribute my increased concern and proactive behavior to reading Kunstler.

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